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The Ruminator

Updated: Aug 15, 2022

In this blog, I'll introduce you to an aspect of yourself you may not even know exists. An aspect of self, that once aware of, you may look at your life quite differently. I've come to know this aspect of myself as THE RUMINATOR.

With your permission, (and by continuing to read on, I'll assume I have it) I'm going to share a few of my own painful experiences with my ruminator (names withheld) in hopes it'll bring your own insight, but first, let's be clear on what a ruminator is. Think of the ruminator as your own "personal terminator" sent back in time to alter, prevent, or even extinguish the life you wish to have. The ruminator may often show up in a variety of situations where we often think and feel:

  • wronged or misunderstood

  • insulted, embarrassed or ashamed

  • upset or angered

  • victimized or less than

  • judgmental (of ourselves and others)

  • where one or more of our values got stepped on

  • that for whatever reason, we can't forgive ourselves and others

  • others assumed a negative intention

  • ...

Depending upon your circumstances, your ruminator may be the Arnold Schwarzenegger, joke-making, friendly type OR it could be the advanced prototype, R-1000 ruminator, with mimetic poly-metal-alloy, killing kind -- having you believe that every new situation is another example of the PTSD-fueled one.

The ruminator is exceptional at:

  1. shrinking the "room" for exploratory thoughts, feelings and perspectives

  2. keeping you stuck in your ways, chained to your initial response & belief

  3. highlighting your rightness and others' wrongness

Seem about right?

How I terminated my Ruminator

While there have been many to come and many that have stayed, I'm going to share the facts of three recent ruminators, the gift they brought, and how I dealt with them.

Ruminator 1:

➡ A friend of mine, who was going through a family challenge, shared his story with me, I shared a rumor about him and proposed what if that rumor was true, even doubling down on my opinion. I come to find out of my misstep through the grapevine that included my family. I felt shame. And my intention was to help support and grow.

🎁 I made an assumption the person was ready to grow. They just wanted an ear to listen.

⏹ It took 6 weeks to trap and terminate this Ruminator. I finally had to sit down with my friend and apologize for my action, while also bringing up my hurt feelings of him not coming to me directly. He's since sent me pictures of his new-born baby and we are planning to run in a 5k together. If he's reading this blog, I hope he knows how much I care about him and his family.

Ruminator 2:

➡ I just accepted this new job with a company that totally speaks to my life purpose. I'm hired, ready-to-go, but just waiting on the background check to clear (which I know in my heart will happen). I begin sending out Linked-in messages to prospective coaching peers and co-workers at the company, asking to meet over the next couple months. I get word from my direct supervisor to hold off. Oh no! This is not the skillful entry into a new system I had intended on modeling.

🎁 My passion, while important, can get me into hot water. Life has a certain pace and flow. Prepare for this new venture by working on other areas of my life.

⏹ Unfortunately for this ruminator, and fortunately for me, I had the protection of my life purpose to terminate any further rumination. Though it took a week, I said to myself, ok this is a small misstep, you can recover and focus on getting prepared for the connections, relationships, and partnerships that shall come. Keep up the good work! Ruminator 3:

➡ Doesn't it seem once you terminate one ruminator, another shows up in its stead? That has been my recent experience when I set an intention of being "Bold" in a recent class I assisted. I, and a handful of other experienced coaches, held a classroom Q&A for the participants and the topic of what we/they should charge per hour for professional coaching. Most answered the question, "about $50/hr to start, discounted, yada, yada." I offered a different opinion, and one based on wrapping consulting around coaching that charged based on performance / retainer fees. Immediately, I was intruded upon by a front-of-the-room leader. "we have an ethical responsibility as coaches to not charge based on performance". Rightfully so, but that's not where I was going with the conversation, and I felt insulted. If you know anything about me (and my father, an ethics professor) you'd know I take ethics seriously and it is a value of mine.

🎁 Take this moment to show humility, admit to your misstep with words, and allow that information to be useful for others in the room. Additionally, go back and review the ICF ethic code of conduct, again.

⏹ It took 1 day, talking to a friend and a nice swim in the pool to contain that rumination. Maybe I should start calling myself the "ruminator-terminator"?

I hope the above look into myself is helpful for taking a look at yourself. Ruminators, like other limiting beliefs, never go away. We can, however, pause, stop, get in touch with deeper meaning and purpose, get in touch with nature, and make the sometimes harder, wiser choice.

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